Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Parker Institute members will focus initially on three main areas:
Engineering T cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) directed to CD19 on cancer cells has proven to be a powerful way to treat some forms of leukemia.
The challenge now is identifying new target antigens in other cancers and optimizing the length of time they survive in the body. Team members will develop laboratory and clinical studies to discover the mechanisms that modulate T cell activity and survival in order to develop a new generation of more effective T cell therapies.
Despite the tremendous success of checkpoint blockade therapy using antibodies against CTLA-4 and PD-1, many patients still do not respond for reasons that are not fully understood.
Team members will compare responders to nonresponders to discover novel pathways and synergistic combination treatments that will improve response rates and broaden the utility of these drugs to more types of cancer.
The identification of new tumor-specific markers for immune recognition stands to improve the effectiveness and broaden the applicability of vaccines and cellular therapies to many additional types of cancer.
Team members will use advanced DNA sequencing, antigen discovery techniques, and immune monitoring to identify cancer-specific targets for novel vaccines and CAR T cell therapy and other engineered cell-based therapies.